Spain

Finding A Place To Stay When You’re Abroad

The task of finding a place to stay when you’re traveling can be extremely daunting. Not only are you visiting somewhere that you’ve never been, but in many cases your native language won’t be the norm in your destination. Don’t let this turn you away! Here are some tips to make it easier on you.

Plan Ahead

Make every effort to get your ducks in a row well before your intended travel dates. Six months or more is preferable. This not only allows you to get the most affordable prices, but it also puts your mind at ease knowing that you have a plan in place and will not be left on the streets. Without a doubt, when making reservations choose the refundable option. Plans change – just take my word for it. You’ll end up kicking yourself when the day comes that your flight gets rescheduled, you get sick, or you simply have a change of heart while you’re on vacation.

Talk To People

This may seem obvious, but if you have friends or family that have been to the area, let them know that you’re going and see what they have to say. They may be able to recommend a particular hotel, or even tell you to stay away from one, which can be just as helpful. In the best of cases, you can even have friends that live in your destination. This can be enormously helpful for many reasons. They can show you around the town, point out places to visit and places to avoid, and generally act as a tour guide (for free!). Plus it’s nice to have a friend to enjoy your stay with.

Most relevant to this post however is that they may even offer to put you up in their guest bedroom, which can save you a fortune and get you off of the beaten tourist path. As you get older, this advantage gets better and better. On my recent trip to Spain I stayed in my friend’s beautiful guest bedroom for a few nights, and I slept on the most comfortable futon I’ve ever used. Just remember, if your friends were traveling to your home town, wouldn’t you be happy to put them up and show them around the city?

Pay Attention to Detail

The last piece of advice is to think of the little things. You’d be surprised what items a hotel may or may not include, especially when you are paying quite a bit of money. Here are a few things you should check to see if they are included:

  • Internet Access (WiFi)
  • Air conditioning
  • Breakfast
  • Refrigerator
  • Beach towels

Make sure you know what you are getting into. Maybe you can’t afford hotels that have all of these amenities, and maybe it’s not important to you if they do. The most important thing is that you don’t want to get surprised when you show up to your destination and be left without a key accommodation that you were depending on.

Spain – A Bounty of Seaside Travel Destinations

Spain is a fantastic place to visit. Delicious food, fantastic wine, and beautiful coastlines are just a few of the attractions the country has to offer, and in general it is quite affordable. In particular, from the Straight of Gibraltar to the Costa Brava there are countless coastal towns that have plenty to offer.

When you get to Spain, you should waste no time getting to the infamous Jamón. If you can afford it, the best you can find is Jamón Iberico de Belota. This is a product from a highly controlled region, where the pigs are raised eating only acorns, and only the finest acorn at that. It is available all throughout the country, but can even be found quite plentifully in the airport.

If your trip to Spain consists of nothing more than a layover in Madrid or Barcelona international airports, you’d be foolish to pass up on the opportunity. With no preservatives other than the salt used to cure, the finest of this dark meat will melt in your mouth. It certainly pairs well with a glass of cava, or a staple beer such as Estrella – if, of course, this is up your alley.

There are many towns along the coast worth seeing. The major places of interest are Seville, Valencia, and Barcelona, each offering a unique subculture. There are also smaller sea towns interspersed between these major cities, such as Cordoba, Javea, and Alicante, or the island destinations such as Ibiza, Formentura, and Palma. It is hard to go wrong with any of these options.

The island of Ibiza in particular, while prominently known for parties and late night DJ concerts in the numerous nightclubs, is also a wonderful place for swimming, relaxing, and enjoying life. In Ibiza Puebla, the downtown area, there is a marvelous castle and medieval area. If you are indeed in search of eternal nightlife, the place to be is Playa d’en Bossa, which is like Las Vegas for nightclubs, without any rules (and there are very few rules in Las Vegas, if this helps to put the scene in perspective. Between these two towns is the beautiful town of Figueridos. Here you will find nice sand beaches, beautifully calm and warm seas, and if you look in the right places you will also find some excellent food. Worth noting is the French restaurant Soleada, which offers not only a gorgeous view of the sea, but also some of the best cuisine on the island. If you are in the are you will not want to miss it, but make sure to secure a reservation if you are going during the busy times as it can be quite popular.

If you are seeking a taste of Spanish culture, but you also want to relax and enjoy beaches in style then the Spanish Mediterranean coast is an excellent choice. With a wide variety of options you really cannot go wrong. Start making plans for your next vacation today!

Spain On The Horizon

It’s getting to be that time again. Soon enough I’ll be off and on my way to Spain to see a number of new cities in such a beautiful country. I’ve only been once before, and did a quick stint in Barcelona and a longer stay in a more remote town in the Costa Brava. This time I’ll be seeing a much larger variety of cities, and I’m eager like a child on his first vacation. In addition to sorting out last-minute logistics and planning my packing, I sat down for one of my favorite pre-travel rituals – watching some informational footage by Rick Steves.

Rick does an excellent job on his travel shows, and they served as formational videos for my childhood. I even crossed paths with him once in Athens – I didn’t have the opportunity to introduce myself unfortunately, but just being in his presence made my spine tingle and filled me with joy. It brought me back to my early childhood.

I particularly like this video, as it is a bit of a shift from the normal travel videos and, I find, a bit more candid. It’s pretty cool to think about the history of the country, and how much influence the Moors had in forming the country. Naturally, they have a bit of a bad reputation in terms of the history books, but their impression on the country’s culture brought a unique flare. This comes through particularly in the architecture of the south of the country, and hopefully I’ll be seeing some of that along the way.

I will be spending some time along the south eastern coast, seeing a few of spots that are high on my list for relaxation purposes. However, I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the other cities – Madrid in particular. I have only been to the Catalonian region of Spain before, yet I don’t speak any Catalan. My background, like most people who learn Spanish language in high school in the US, is in the Castilian language. Castilian is spoken in Madrid, and basically anywhere that more to the north and/or west of the country. I always enjoy a city more when I am able to immerse myself at a deeper level so I’m quite excited.

So, what’s on the schedule for me?

Well, I’ll be staying a nights in Valencia, just to get a quick feel for the place. Then I’ll be off to Alicante, which is a beautiful seacoast town. I’ll be there for a while so perhaps I’ll be making some day trips when I have a chance. Then I’ll be off to Seville, passing through Madrid as the train system necessitates. This has been on my bucket list since learning about it over a decade ago, and I am very excited to see what this quaint and romantic village has in store. Finally, I’ll post up in Madrid for a while before my trip comes to a close – it will be a sad day indeed, but unfortunately it is inevitable.

Well, back to travel prep for me. I’ll make sure to stay up to date!